US House Republicans launch probe of Atlanta DA in Trump election case

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis holds a press conference after the indictment of Donald Trump

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. House of Representatives Republicans on Thursday launched an investigation of Fani Willis, the district attorney in Georgia's Fulton County, as former President Donald Trump prepared to report to jail on criminal charges she brought involving his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, a staunch Trump ally, sent Willis a letter raising questions about whether she coordinated her probe with the U.S. Justice Department, including Special Counsel Jack Smith, or used federal tax money in the investigation.

"The federal government has a substantial interest in the welfare of former presidents," Jordan wrote in a five-page letter to Willis.

"And because this former president is a current candidate for that office, the indictment implicates another core federal interest: a presidential election," Jordan said.

Jordan raised concerns about her motivation in bringing the case and asserted congressional authority to "probe whether former presidents are being subjected to politically motivated investigations and prosecutions." Jordan also indicated in the letter that lawmakers could consider legislation about the use of federal funds by state law enforcement in the future.

Willis's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Republicans hold a narrow majority in the House. Jordan and two other House Republican chairmen have pursed a similar probe of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought criminal charges against Trump involving hush money paid to a porn star ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Bragg then sued Jordan to stop what the district attorney called a "campaign of intimidation."

Trump has faced criminal charges in four cases this year, two brought by Smith. Trump, the first former U.S. president ever to face charges, is the front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination to face President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the 2024 U.S. election.

Jordan gave Willis until 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) on Sept. 7 to turn over documents and communications involving any use of federal funds by her office and any contacts in the Trump case with officials at the Justice Department or elsewhere in the Biden administration.

The House investigation was disclosed three days after Trump accused Willis on his social media platform of "continuing to campaign, and raise money on, this WITCH HUNT. This is in strict coordination with Crooked Joe Biden's DOJ. It is all about ELECTION INTERFERENCE!"

The House Judiciary Committee released Jordan's letter as Trump prepared on Thursday to be fingerprinted and photographed at an Atlanta jail on 13 felony counts including racketeering, which is typically used to target organized crime.

In the case brought by Willis, Trump was accused of unlawfully pressuring Georgia state officials to reverse his 2020 election loss to Biden in the state.

House Republicans have sought to defend Trump in the four cases by alleging that the U.S. justice system has been "weaponized" against him by Biden.

Trump, 77, faces 91 separate criminal counts overall in the court cases. He has denied any wrongdoing.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Will Dunham and John Stonestreet)